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Megan Flyyn / Gavel Media

A Comprehensive Guide to Boston Museums

Summer has officially arrived and the effects of climate change can be felt in the scorching June heat. While some people try to keep cool by splashing in the pool, others seek refuge in air-conditioned malls and movie theaters. Summertime is also known as a period when the brain turns to mush, and out seeps information that students had spent months cramming in before exams. One way to beat the heat while also keeping the cerebrum sharp is to explore local institutions of knowledge and beauty, otherwise known as museums. Here is a list of some of the best museums that Boston has to offer:

1. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Recently known for doubling its reward to $10 million for stolen paintings, this Venetian-like palace hosts a plethora of antique objects, paintings, and sculptures. Artwork is displayed on all three stories of the museum as well as in the flower-filled outdoor courtyard. The museum will be offering a chance to enjoy free music, art, and even yoga during its Neighborhood Night: Sounds of Summer evening event July 13, July 27, and August 10 from 5–9 p.m. Fun fact: Admission is free if your name is Isabella.

2. Mapparium
Located in the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Mapparium is a three-story tall globe made out of stained glass that encompasses the viewer. It is also known as the “whispering gallery” because the spherical shape of the room allows someone at one end to clearly hear the whisper of someone else at the opposite end. The Mapparium is open 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday.

3. Gibson House Museum
A tour of this Back Bay museum will transport you back to the mid-1800s. The museum belonged to four generations of an upper-middle class Boston family and features ornate Victorian furniture, portraits, and trinkets. It offers a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy in 19th-century Boston. The house has been relatively untouched and was marked as a National Historic Landmark. Visits are by guided tour only, which are available Wednesday–Sunday at 1, 2, and 3 p.m.

4. Boston Athenæum
Not far from the Boston Common is the Boston Athenæum, one of the oldest independent libraries and cultural institutions in the nation. It displays an extensive map collection, historical paintings and sculptures, and rare books from early authors. It is currently exhibiting contemporary art that represents life in New England. The first floor is open to the public and guided tours are offered at various hours.

5. Museum of Fine Arts
A classic museum destination (especially for the BC history core), the MFA currently features exhibits ranging from Botticelli paintings to photographs of the Lodz Ghetto. It has an extensive collection of ancient art and contemporary works, including paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, furniture, and jewelry. The museum will be hosting a Summer of Love starting July 11, which includes three different lectures discussing art and music during the 1960s. Tickets are required.


The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts offer free admission for Boston College students—just make sure to bring your BC ID. For more information on free admission to museums for BC students, click here.

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